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RealTime Economic Issues Watch

In RealTime posts, PIIE senior staff and colleagues discuss the fast-moving economic news, financial developments, and public policy choices confronting the United States and the world.

Recent Posts

The Coming Greek Default: How Minister Varoufakis Thinks

by | May 21st, 2015 | 01:24 pm

Earlier this week I spoke at the Emergency Economic Summit for Greece (held in Athens on May 19) and got a firsthand understanding of how Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis views a possible deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission (EC). In brief, the minister considers their position fundamentally flawed, and […]

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China’s Pivot to Latin America

by | May 20th, 2015 | 10:05 am

While President Obama pivots to Asia, China has unequivocally embarked on a symbolic and cash-abundant pivot to Latin America. Following President Xi Jinping’s visit to the region in July 2014, Premier Li Keqiang has now arrived to seal the deal. His first stop in Brasilia rendered a US$50 billion fund for infrastructure investments and various […]

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Six Ways to Reduce Corruption in Greece

by | May 19th, 2015 | 11:21 am

Drawing on my experience in the government of Bulgaria, I offered six ways Greece can reduce corruption in a speech at the Emergency Economic Summit for Greece today in Athens. These guidelines are universal and apply to any country. 1. Reduce the redistributive role of the state. Currently the Greek government redistributes 47 percent of […]

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Does Germany’s Business Climate Live Up to Its Reputation?

by | May 13th, 2015 | 11:19 am

At a time when calls for structural and labor reform are echoing throughout Europe, Germany has maintained a reputation for fostering a business-friendly investment climate. This reputation results partly from the structural reforms undertaken in the early 2000s. Recent evidence from the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index indicates, however, that improvements in Germany’s […]

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Three Ways Latin America Can Turn a Crisis into a Positive

by | May 11th, 2015 | 04:39 pm

It is hard to believe, after a few days at the Mexican coast, but the sunny days are over for Latin America. The sunshine might come back, but the next few quarters will be challenging. Latin America has been carried by a wave of low interest rates and high commodity prices for a decade. Now […]

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Russia’s Turkish Pipeline Dream May Be a Pipe Dream

by | May 11th, 2015 | 02:03 pm

Expressing high hopes for future cooperation with Turkey, Alexei Miller, head of the Russian state-owned company Gazprom, announced in early May that gas would start flowing through the new gas pipeline Turkish Stream by December 2016. Its initial capacity would be about 16 billion cubic meters or a quarter of the eventual full capacity. Gazprom […]

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The Future of Worldwide Income Distribution

by and Paolo Mauro | May 5th, 2015 | 09:11 am

The debate about income distribution has focused on the trend of rising inequality in the United States and other advanced economies. Worldwide, however, income distribution is becoming more equal. This video presents new evidence derived from surveys of households worldwide, which projects equality to improve further in the next 20 years. The main factor in […]

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Do Public Banks in Brazil Hurt Productivity?

by | May 1st, 2015 | 03:51 pm

Much is said about lagging productivity growth in Latin America, particularly in comparison to emerging markets in other regions. The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) has just released a book entitled Rethinking Productive Development, and one need not go beyond its initial pages to find the diagnosis: Reversing pervasive low productivity in Latin America requires concerted […]

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A New Negotiation Team in Greece Must Now Close the Deal with Europe

by | April 30th, 2015 | 12:38 pm

The unceremonious sidelining of Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis of Greece from the negotiations between Athens and the euro area opens a new phase in the crisis. Whether a solution is in the offing remains to be seen. But as predicted, Varoufakis’s efforts to rally support for his cause in international circles by openly criticizing Europe’s […]

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Pension Reform in Bulgaria—Increasing Youth Unemployment

by | April 27th, 2015 | 03:04 pm

Like many countries in Eastern Europe and the developed world generally, Bulgaria faces the challenge of unfunded liabilities in its pension system. Reforming the system has been debated in Bulgaria over the past decade. Recent proposals for reform, including the introduction of higher social security taxes in lieu of raising the mandatory retirement age, and […]

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